Moon Miners' Manifesto
#99 October 1996
Section 184.108.40.206.099.of the Artemis Data Book
IN FOCUS: VentureStar Looks Good, But We Need C.A.T.S. Options
"Scrambled-X": Without demeaning Lockheed's winning X-33 design, it'd
nonetheless be regrettable if we put all our eggs in one X-basket. The
different candidate designs followed different combinations of assumptions.
If only one set is tested, it is all too likely that we will get a good, not
the best machine.
Henry Vanderbilt, in Space Access Update # 67, 7/11/'96 (Moon Miners'
Review # 19), compared the X-33 offering with that of an inexpensive Delta
Clipper follow-on that the Air Force would like to see funded. That
comparison is given below. That the wisest policy is to pursue both options
Meanwhile, NASA will explore other promi-sing cheap access, reusable vehicle
- According to Space News June 10-16, '96, NASA intends to hold a competition
for a dual-fuel, air-breathing reusable launch vehicle in the next 2-3 years,
says Dan Goldin. Such a rocket would use oxidizer from the atmosphere during
the first phase of its flight, reducing the amount of LOX it had to carry
along, thus leaving more room for payload and increasing its payload mass
- Goldin also mentioned that "A few more RLV [Reusable Launch Vehicle]
development programs that don't even have numbers yet are planned to start
What about market forces? Lockheed Martin's expectations are high, that its
vehicle, once opera-tional, could garner 80% of big load business! It is
unlikely that other commercial players such as McDonnel Douglas and
Arianespace would be happy with such dominance. We can look for competition,
competition exploring other options. That's good.
Nor should we think that it is only a ques-tion of guaranteeing that we find
the best combina-tion of features. Cheap Access To Space, CATS, is not a
simple challenge with a single solution. It is a veritable tree of problems
with both roots and branches spreading in different directions.
That the best CATS solution for large hard-ware payloads should by
coincidence be the best CATS solutions for shipping materials to space that
can be handled in any quantity, or that the best CATS solution for either
should by some lucky quirk also be the best CATS solution for sending people,
cabinsfull of people, to orbit - that coincidence would be bizarre.
More, Heinlein pointed out that once you are in orbit you are half way to
anywhere, i.e. you may have solved only half your transportation problem. We
need Cheap Access from LEO to GEO, from either to the Moon, from Earth and
the Moon to Mars. These are all different sets of challenges that are likely
to have unique solutions.
If all that the push for Cheap Access achieves is to make it easier and
cheaper to put communications satellites in orbit, we will have spent a lot
of energy without doing a thing to open the real space frontier.
In this issue, we take a look at just some of the many challenges and just
some of the possible solutions. We're sure there are more problems and more
good strategies - our purpose is to stimulate thought and vaporize the
current simplistic hysteria over something that is more important and
far-reaching than most CATS champions have let them-selves realize. In the
end, CATS, the effort to insure
ever cheaper access
of everything we want to put in space
to everywhere we want to go in space,
will be an unending story. -- Peter Kokh
Space Access Society's analysis of relative merits of VentureStar X-33 and
proposed Clipper follow-on:
- X-33 does horizontal runway landing.
- DC-XB/C would pursue vertical wingless small-pad powered landing.
- X-33 uses medium-temperature metallic thermal protection.
- DC-XB/C would use new high-durability high-temperature tile TPS.
- X-33 tests new 'aerospike' rocket engines
- DC-XB/C would demonstrate use of multiple traditional bell-nozzle engines,
- X-33 will pioneer use of complex multilobe composite propellant tanks
- DC-XB/C insures against manufacturing/durability problems with simpler
- X-33 will test out low L:D low heat-load reentry profiles.
- DC-XB/C will explore high-maneuverability high hypersonic L:D flight.
- X-33 will need fixed operating bases, specialized ground-handling equipment
for ship and payload
- DC-XB/C will be aimed at more mobile operations out of small austere sites.
- X-33 is a higher-risk higher-payoff approach, bundling new technologies
into a complex package.
- DC-XB/C takes a much more incremental approach - "build a little, test a
The "Tree of Cheap Access"
One thing almost everyone in the space activist community can agree on is
the absolutely vital need to bring down drastically the cost of getting into
space. But it is not commonly seen that this is not just one problem but
several. Getting "what" into space? And just "where in space" are we
talking about? The challenge is really multiplex. In In this mont's articles,
we look at just some of the aspects.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto
Moon Miners' Manifesto
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